Title:
Method and system for environmental reclimation and restoration
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
This invention provides a method and system for environmental reclamation and removal of organic chemical contaminants and fluid spills employing a liquefied or solid wax system to capture, to improve the ease of recovery for spilled oil, and to preserve the oil for later complete reclamation. The present system enables the easy application of a waxy composition having a solidus-liquidus transformation temperature (TC) above that of seawater and below that endangering human life during application (approximately 120-180° F.). The present invention enables application of liquefied wax or a solid wax particle or block to the water-containing oil from a top and a bottom surface with equal effect. The present system also enables reclamation and recovery of oil-saturated particulates that are heated, while preserving the oil and wax for later recapturing and separation.



Inventors:
Nakatsu, Tetsuo (Pleasantville, NY, US)
Kubota, Ichiro (Ashikaga, JP)
Application Number:
11/485758
Publication Date:
07/19/2007
Filing Date:
07/12/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
502/159
International Classes:
C10G31/06
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
KRECK, JANINE MUIR
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NOLTE LACKENBACH SIEGEL (SCARSDALE, NY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method for remediating a spilled petroleum lipophilic product, comprising the steps of: contacting a wax with a lipophilic material; and allowing said wax to chemical bond with said lipophilic material to form a solid bond, thereby facilitating ready removal and pacification of said spilled petroleum product.

2. A system for capturing and reclaiming a petroleum spill, comprising the steps of: contacting a liquefied wax to a spilled petroleum product at a temperature above a transformation temperature; and allowing said liquid wax to traverse said transformation temperature and transform to a solid capturing said spilled petroleum in a solid form, thereby facilitating ready removal and pacification of said spilled petroleum product.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/698,663, filed Jul. 12, 2005, the contents of which are fully incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a method and system for reclaiming spilled organic chemical contaminants. More specifically, the present invention relates to a system and a method for capturing, reclaiming, and removing from the environment spilled oil and other petroleum distillates common in industry, including the treatment of heavy fluid oil-type, PCT-type, or broadly lipophilic materials using a wax.

2. Description of the Related Art

Oil spills are a common byproduct of oil and petroleum distillate transportation and use, and are most famously known from oil tanker spills where thousands of barrels of crude oil spread across the ocean in an uncontrolled fashion.

Also commonly known are smaller petroleum spills typically found along rivers, streams, and ponds adjacent petroleum transportation routes. Also obviously known are spills on land and in bounded regions such as sewers and sumps.

Conventionally, industry has sought solutions to both capture and pacify the petroleum based upon dispersant and mechanical solutions. See for example “Clean-Up Techniques” noted by at htttp://www.itoph.com/clean-up.htm, visited Jan. 25, 2006 noting the two main approaches to cleaning up marine oil spills at sea (a) the use of dispersant chemicals, and (b) the use of containment and recovery methods; the contents of which are incorporated herein fully by reference.

Where a spill occurs over water, a floating boom is employed to corral the spreading oil, and petroleum dispersants are applied to break-down the oil or alternatively active microbes are applied to digest the oil. Similarly, cellulose based absorbents (from saw dust to sophisticated gel compounds) are employed to absorb the oil for later recovery.

The public is generally familiar with the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska. This oil spill caused massive environmental damage initially and has had a lasting impact, continuing to cause genetic defects in the wildlife and contaminate the food chain.

One understanding from the Valdez spill is the need to capture the spilled oil as quickly as possible and prevent its further distribution via wave and wind action, and to preferably prevent its contact with any shoreline. Those cleaning the Valdez spill on the shoreline understand that a rocky and sandy shoreline has an immense amount of surface area for the oil to stick to, contaminate, and penetrate; often for decades. Thus, as proposed in the present invention in any potential spill situation, it is essential to prevent further oil distribution as rapidly as possible and to set the oil in a form safe for later reclamation. In this way, the main hazards presented by spilled oil are quickly removed from the environment, although the safe-form oil will require later removal.

To this end, scientists have created foams for dispersing and more recently microbes for consuming the oil and causing its breakdown during clean up operations. An unfortunate side effect of these solutions is that the resultant oil is difficult to further refine (containing both organic enzymes and a range of distillates), and in some cases is no longer economical to use. Thus, where a large spill has occurred, the amount of oil lost has an immense value that is completely lost if the oil cannot be reclaimed for later refining.

The related art also teaches the need for agitation (based on wave action or mechanical input) to mix any spilled oil and surfactant or enzyme for suitable result. The requirement for agitation takes time and energy that may be otherwise directed more economically.

Following distribution and agitation conventional pumps remove the combined surfactant and oil from the surface of the ocean for later distribution. While the combined surfactant and oil are transported for later mitigation treatments, the remainder of the oil left on the water surface is allowed to ultimately sink, settling on the ocean bottom.

What is also not appreciated by the prior art is substantial and related need for an available solution for heavy liquid contaminate (oil or PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl)) removal from water, soil, rock, and other combinations thereof throughout the commercial-use-chain for such substance

It will be understood, that the use of PCB's hereafter merely represents an example any of a family of industrial compounds, including long-chain or heavy oils as well as short chain refinements, produced by chlorination of biphenyl and other refining processes. These are referred to commonly as environmental pollutants and carcinogens that commonly accumulate in animal tissues along a food chain with resultant pathogenic and teratogenic effects.

One article cites the well-known impact and cost constraints in remediation environmental PCT damage in “GE Dreding plans for the Hudson Upset Some Upstate Residents”, by Jorge Fitz-Gibbon and Greg Clary, The Journal News, Jun. 4, 2006; the contents of which are incorporated herein fully by reference. In this article it is noted that the PCB clean up plan involves the building of a 110-acre industrial city for treating recovered PCT-laden materials. Upon this site would include a treatment process for sediment and water, as well as landing docks for as many as thirty (30) barges of contaminated waste per day. Yet a further article suggests that the costs for building such a treatment site is in the range of $20 Million. See “More Delays Possible for Hudson River PCB Cleanup”, by Greg Clary, The Journal News, Jun. 6, 2006 the contents of which are incorporated herein fully by reference.

Referring now to FIGS. 5-8 a conventional surfactant oil recovery method is described. FIG. 1 discloses oil suspended in a tray of tap water at room temperature. In FIG. 2, an initial conventional surfactant is dropped on to the fluid surface and initially attempts to combine with all the oil and break it into small dispersed particles. FIG. 3 indicates the foamy results of an agitation step necessary to intermix the conventional surfactant with the oil in an attempt to reach wide-ranging dispersal. FIG. 4 (left tray) indicates the removed combination of oil and foamy surfactant and (right tray) indicates the remnant oily coverage of the water surface. In view of the conventional surfactant method it is clear that a faster acting and less demanding system for remediation is required.

In summary, the problems of commercially available oil reclamation and spill retrieval solutions are many and include at least the following:

  • 1. Expensive to maintain and develop (microbial and chemical foam dispersants), and transport to a use site.
  • 2. Inability to rapidly stop the spread of oil on a suspension surface (water surface) due to the low surfactant rate of reaction, a need for agitation, and the difficulty of employing physical barriers.
  • 3. Not able to retain the captured oil in a form allowing ready physical recover for reclamation and separation or use as a fuel. For example, surfactants employed in oil-spill reclamation may be a secondary contamination to the environment and foster the growth of unwanted algae.
  • 4. Incompatibility with related spill recovery solutions—the use of some dispersants provide a second form of contamination and fail to recover the oil in contrast with aerobic microbe use to metabolize/consume the spillage, while counteracting or interfering with the operation of other forms of oil treatment chemicals.
  • 5. The waste of a large amount of expensive surfactant for a small area, and the need for resultant costly treatment or separation of the surfactant-oil mixture.
  • 6. The relatively low volume or low area of treatment due to the limited capacity for storage on a boat for retrieving spent surfactant and digestant microbes.
  • 7. Failure to recognize that any recovered oil may no longer be useable as oil-itself without subsequent refining steps.
  • 8. The requirement to genetically tailor each microbe/surfactant to the respective spilled substance.
  • 9. Failure to recognize the benefit of employing a lipophilic or wax in contrast to the costly employment of surfactants and dispersants.
  • 10. The failure of commercially available surfactants to disperse extremely heavy viscosities (such as fuel oil at low temperature).

Accordingly, there is a need for an improved method and system for remediating the environment impacts of PCB's and other heavy oils or broadly lipophilic materials that support efforts in other areas of the environment.

OBJECTS AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An aspect of the present invention is to provide an alternative solution in response to one of the needs noted above.

Another aspect of the present invention is to provide an adaptive method that allows the treatment of multiple or combined spilled substances simultaneously.

Another aspect of the present invention is the solution provided to treat both suspended (surface) and descended (bottom level of a water or rock strata) contaminated regions.

Another object of the present invention to provide a method and system for environmental reclamation that is faster than conventional methods and functions to bind or bond with lipophilic materials.

Another aspect of the present invention to provide a method and system requiring little technical maintenance during storage, and having a lengthy viable in-storage period exceeding several years as well as a lengthy viable use period without requiring immediate removal before subsequent breakdown.

Another aspect of the present invention enables the ready recover and re-refining of as-captured spilled product without additional waste.

Another aspect of the present invention is to provide a reclamation system that rapidly stops the spread of oil during a spill.

Another aspect of the present invention is to provide a rapid response system for oil or PCB spills that removes a substantial portion of a spill, allowing supportive active microbe and chemical sprays and foams to resolve any remaining minor amounts of oil.

The present invention relates to a method and system for environmental reclamation and removal of organic chemical contaminants and fluid spills employing a liquefied or solid wax system to capture, to improve the ease of recovery for spilled oil, and to preserve the oil for later complete reclamation. The present system enables the easy application of a waxy composition having a solidus-liquidus transformation temperature (TC) above that of seawater and below that endangering human life during application (approximately 120-180° F.). The present invention enables application of liquefied wax or a solid wax particle or bloc to the water-containing oil from a top and a bottom surface with equal effect.

Finally, the present system also enables reclamation and recovery of oil-saturated particulates that are heated, while preserving the oil and wax for later recapturing and separation.

According to an embodiment of the present invention there is provided a method for remediating a spilled petroleum lipophilic product, comprising the steps of: contacting a wax with a lipophilic material, and allowing the wax to chemical bond with the lipophilic material to form a solid bond, thereby facilitating ready removal and pacification of the spilled petroleum product.

According to another embodiment of the present invention, there is provided a system for capturing and reclaiming a petroleum spill, comprising the steps of: contacting a liquefied wax to a spilled petroleum product at a temperature above a transformation temperature, and allowing the liquid wax to traverse the transformation temperature and transform to a solid capturing the spilled petroleum in a solid form, thereby facilitating ready removal and pacification of the spilled petroleum product.

The above, and other aspects, features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description read in conduction with the accompanying drawings, in which like reference numerals designate the same elements.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a recovery schematic process from a water (aqueous based) surface.

FIG. 1A is an alternative recovery schematic process from a water surface.

FIG. 2 is a modified recovery schematic from a solid or partially solid surface.

FIG. 2A is a simplified recovery schematic further to FIG. 2.

FIG. 3 is a recovery schematic process for recovery from below water level (submerged) or on a bottom surface.

FIG. 3A is a simplified recovery schematic further to FIG. 3.

FIG. 4 is a schematic process of micro-extraction of lipophilic material in a water system.

FIG. 4A is a schematic process of micro-extraction of lipophilic material in a water system.

FIG. 5 is an image of an oil volume distributed on a water surface.

FIG. 6 is an image of the water surface in FIG. 5 with a conventional surfactant noting the initial dispersion of the oil in different directions.

FIG. 7 is an image of FIG. 6 following an agitation step to create foam bubbles from the conventional surfactant.

FIG. 8 is an image noting the recovery of the foam bubbles (tray on right) and the un-reclaimed and un-dispersed oil retained on the surface of the water that was not trapped by the surfactant.

FIG. 9 is an image of a selected melted wax dispersed over oil dropped onto a water surface, wherein both the oil and wax solidify rapidly.

FIG. 10 is an image of solidified wax and oil in a net (shown as a strainer).

FIG. 11 is an image of melted (recovered on the left side) wax being re-applied over the surface of the water and wax remaining (on right side ) for the second and final treatment.

FIG. 12 is an image of the wax taken from a first and a second cleaning uses, wherein the second-use wax (foreground) is shown remarkably cleaner and then the first-use wax (background).

FIG. 13 is an image of clarified water following the cleaning steps in FIGS. 9-12 noting the comprehensive removal of oil from the surface of water with any remaining content on the container edges easily removed.

FIG. 14 is an image of oil-contaminated sandstone particles agitated with liquid wax and warm water to improve contact between the wax and the oil-contamination.

FIG. 15 is an image (after cooling) of the floating wax and oil combination separated from the water surface.

FIG. 16 is an image of solidified oil and wax removed from the water system for later processing and refining.

FIG. 17 is an image of CH2Cl2 (a heavy oil) indicated with a blue dye shown at a bottom of a vessel containing water in a representative example of PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls) in water.

FIG. 18 is an image of melted wax contacted/exposed to a periphery of CH2Cl2 at a bottom of the vessel wherein the CH2Cl2 and wax were instantly co-solidified.

FIG. 19 is an image wherein the resultant of FIG. 18 is noted as a solid mixture of CH2Cl2 and wax floating in the water filled vessel.

FIG. 20 is an image noting the cohesive solid mass of CH2Cl2 and wax as being easily removed from the resultant water for later processing, leaving only a trace amount of CH2Cl2.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Reference will now be made in detail to several embodiments of the invention that are illustrated in the accompanying drawings. Wherever possible, same or similar reference numerals are used in the drawings and the description to refer to the same or like parts or steps. The drawings are in simplified form and are not to precise scale. For purposes of convenience and clarity only, directional terms, such as top, bottom, up, down, over, above, and below may be used with respect to the drawings. These and similar directional terms should not be construed to limit the scope of the invention in any manner. The words “connect,” “couple,” “contact” and similar terms with their inflectional morphemes do not necessarily denote direct and immediate connections, but also include connections through mediate elements or devices as well as dispersal of an item over a surface producing multiple points of contact in a single event.

As used herein, those of skill in the art will recognize that the phrase lipophilic or “lipophilic materials” represents very broadly those materials having an affinity for lipids, oils, or petroleum (oleophilic) related products and generally being water insoluble (hydrophilic) or requiring energetic emulsion to achieve any measurable dispersion in an aqueous solution.

In coping with the problems noted above, the present invention provides a system for a method and system for environmental reclamation and removal of oil and fluid spills. It is also noted that any number of waxy compositions may be employed in the method, without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention, including commonly candle wax or wax separated from the petroleum pumping process. Those of skill in the art may readily determine common candle wax compositions and others, all available for conventional sale and transport.

Referring now to FIG. 1, one method or system according to the present invention employs a multi-step process for recovering a substantial portion of spilled materials (petroleum or PCB). In a first step of wax preparation process, an operator prepares waxes for dispersal by melting or particulate dispersal methods, wherein any wax particles are reduced to fine particles or flakes. Where the waxes are liquefied, a liquefied solution having a solid-liquid temperature transformation region above that of the spilled environment is applied to the spilled petroleum, and it is predicable that the waxy substance passes through its temperature transformation and operates to capture all petroleum contacted into a solid mass.

In a second step of distribution, the prepared waxes are deposited proximate the target lipophilic materials to be recovered, extracted, and separated from a water system. The third step of an incorporation process involves contacting the prepared wax-based materials with the lipophilic materials to allow at least surface bonding and resultant incorporation and possibly in-depth homogenization between the applied wax and lipophilic material.

In a fourth step, a physical recovery of the solid material (wax and lipophilic material) is conducted separating the same from a water system using a separation device such as a screen or a net or strand recovery apparatus. A fifth step is the post-recovery separation process for treating the mixture of waxes and materials with subsequent distillation, extraction and/or filtration, or combustion in conventional manners. Finally, in a last step the recovered and separated materials are transferred for later processing and the waxes may be further refined or purified for later re-use.

Referring now to FIG. 1A, a simplified process cycle mirrors the details of FIG. 1

Referring now to FIG. 2, application of the present system to a solid or combination of solids contaminated with lipophilic materials and oils is discussed. In a first step, the materials on such solids are contacted with the wax in either a fluid or solid form. In a second step of warming, heat is applied to both ease separation between the solids and the contamination and the lowering of density and melting of the waxy material and stirring is applied.

In a third step, cooling is conducted to re-solidify any melted waxy component and solidify any combined materials (wax+contaminate). A fourth separation step includes the physical separation of the solidified mixture from the remaining solid. Thereafter in subsequent steps, the waxy material and contaminated materials are separated and refined/solidified for later purposes, and in a recycling step the wax may be re-used.

Referring now to FIG. 2A, a simplified process cycle mirrors the details of FIG. 2.

Referring now to FIG. 3, the present system is applied to contamination that is positioned below the surface of water, representing oil that has fallen to the bottom of an ocean inlet or PCB contaminates on a river bottom. Here, in a first step the waxes are melted to a liquid well below a respective solidification point in preparation for a second dispersion process wherein the melted wax is dispersed via pumping hose or other member to the bottom of the water system for immediate contact with any lipophilic materials.

Following contact with the melted or partially melted wax, the contaminating lipophilic materials are part of a solid recovery process and are conventionally lighter than water and are subsequently buoyant. Whether buoyant or not, a subsequent step involves the solid recovery where the combined wax+lipophilic materials are removed from the water system and enter a fourth step for separation processing by treating the combined mixture with distillation, extrication, and additional filtration. Finally, there is a separation for later recover.

Referring now to FIG. 3A, a simplified process cycle mirrors the details of FIG. 3, for convenience.

Referring now to FIG. 4 which refers to the employment of the present system with small solid particles such as sand or pebbles. In a first step, liquid wax or small fine particle waxes (say in the range of 5 grams to 1,000 grams) and or high surface area flakes are prepared and in a second step distributed in a manor complementary to their instant form (pressure or pouring for liquids, blowing and tossing for flakes and small particles. In a third step, timing is allowed for the chemical surface are attraction to incorporate wax and lipophilic material. A forth step, the solid recovery process, removes the solidified combination of wax and lipophilic material from the application site using a screen, net, or other removal tool.

Lastly, in a separation process, the removed solidified combination is further distilled, extracted, combusted, or filtered to separate the wax for re-use and return the recovered lipophilic material for later commercial process.

Referring now to FIG. 4A, a simplified process cycle mirrors the details of FIG. 4

Referring now to FIGS. 9 through 13, imagery of the impact of the present inventive system is provided. In FIG. 9, melted wax is spread over a surface of wax floating on water and agglomeration immediately begins. In FIG. 10, solidified wax and lipophilic materials are physically filtered and recovered by a net (shown here as a hand strainer).

In FIG. 11, a first pan (on the left) indicates the easy separation of lipophilic materials by physical straining and in the second pan (on the right), the filtered and used wax from the left side first pan is reapplied over any remaining oil on the surface of the tray. FIG. 12 represents the first and second solids removed from the trey, with the foreground indicating the much cleaner second solids wax removal and with FIG. 13 representing that the empty pan of water included no visible oil or oil film and hence complete removal.

Referring now to FIGS. 14-16, imagery of oil or PCB removal from particulate or solid matter is displayed. In the instant example, oil may be removed from sandstone pebbles by a simple application (in FIG. 14) of combining melted wax and solid wax to the sandstone pebbles at an elevated temperature (warm water) and allowing the wax to solidify, forming (in FIG. 15) a separated wax and oil combination with some included particulate. In FIG. 16, solidified wax and oil combinations (including any PCBs), are easily removed from the system for later refinement and separation.

Referring now to FIGS. 17 through 20, in a subsequent experiment supporting the above methods representing the recovery of heavier oils submerged in water (heaver than water), an oil soluble coloring agent was dissolved in methylene chloride (CH2Cl2) and placed in water (FIG. 17). The addition of methylene chloride provides a colorant for ready user visibility with a difficult-to-see wax is used as a demonstration. Here, the melted wax was applied to the oil submerged below the surface of the water by contacting along an initial edge (FIG. 18), and later transformed into a solid, and sinking to a bottom of the specimen container where it contacted the “heavy oil” shown as methylene chloride (CH2Cl2), although PCB or other heavy oils may be used. As seen in FIG. 19, almost all the methylene chloride (heavy oil) was fully incorporated in the wax showing a very efficient and quick oil capture/recovery cycle. The application steps may be repeated following the removal of the solid mass (FIG. 20) or a differing method employing activated microbes or chemical dispersants may be additionally used to further clean the remaining oil. Those of skill in the art will recognize that the separation process for removing waxes from oils or chemicals are well known and the same are incorporated herein by reference.

As a last embodiment of the present inventive system or method, one may recognize that the recovery of solid mixtures containing wax and oil is really a later separation following an initial distillation process in an oil refinery plant (with was being originally separated from heavy oil so that the process is commonly known in the oil industry).

One common recovery process is where distillates including gasoline and kerosene are stored in a tank and the contained wax is distilled under vacuum, which may be used to thereafter recover nearly 100% of the reclaimed oil using a recycling process, thereby mitigating the loss of a natural resource.

The present invention also lends itself well to conservative cost structures as wax of reasonable purity is inexpensive (less than $1/kg) and will not be lost unless a decision is made to combust/bum the recovered fluid and wax in combination prior to separation.

As noted elsewhere herein, it is preferred for a common wax having a solidus point approximately 130° F. or below is employed, and due to the lengthy molecular chain they float in water. Those of skill in the art will also recognize that water will inherently not take into itself wax (as in some form of automatic halogenation). Consequently no wax will ever remain in solution allowing complete recovery.

Those of skill in the art will recognize that where oil is suspended on a water surface, and a wax contacts the oil-covered surface, incorporation occurs and removal by skimming is easily provided. Alternatively, the present system may be tailored such that where the molecular weigh of the wax is selected to be greater than water, the solidified wax will sink, where the opposite, the wax will float allowing a skimming process to remove the oil-incorporating wax.

Those of skill in the art will also recognize that the instant system may be used in conjunction with all previously known systems, and may even be improved by wave action where more lipophobic materials (oils) are contacted with the wax in an aggressive manner.

waxes.

Those skilled in the chemical arts will recognize that the present system may be readily adapted to capture and reclaim a wide variety of organic chemical contaminants while providing the same benefits noted above.

Those of skill in the art will further recognize, that one adaptive option of the present system is to continually supply a liquid wax to the outer perimeter of an oil spill, thereby forming a continual barrier, both physical from the floating wax, and chemically neutral due to the wax-bonded oil molecules.

It should be additionally recognized by those of skill in the chemical and reclamation arts, that carefully tailoring the wax composition, principally the solidification points and phase transformation ranges, may be critical to success and commercial viability. For example, in one alternative embodiment of the present invention a waxy composition is mixed to have a melting point between 110-120 degrees Celsius as a convenient economic and practical compromise. This temperature range ensures the wax retains sufficient thermal energy to survive thermal losses during transportation and yet remain liquid for later application. This suggested temperature range is also reasonably economic to reach during a wax-liquefaction process without expending undue energy. Finally, this temperature range is indicative of a wax composition that retains useful inherent pliability after solidification preventing unintended brittle fracture into small difficult-to-retrieve particles.

Another alternative aspect of the present invention provides the following combination, namely application of a fluid waxy composition on an oil spill before, after, or during the application of chopped reinforcing fibers. In this alternative embodiment, the reinforcing fibers may range from 0.50 cm to 8.0 cm, and may be formed from any convenient fiber material, including various organic materials like hay, straw, hemp, etc. and multiple inorganic materials such as fiberglass, and silicon carbide. It is beneficial if the fibers have a density less than that of seawater and hence float on the surface.

This present alternative embodiment suggest that the reinforcing fibers may be mixed with the fluid wax during application to an oil spill and so aid in the strengthening of a solidified wax+recovered oil composition, thereby minimizing unintended break-up by wave action or other mechanical action along a shore. Those of skill in the art will recognize, that the reinforcing fibers surface chemistry, density, length, and other properties may be optimized to ensure bonding with the solidified waxy. A composition of wax, fiber, and solidified oil will remain in larger pieces thereby easing later clean up and reclamation. Obviously, re-melting and re-using the wax will separate the fibers for later re-use.

One use of this alternative embodiment is the use of wax and fiber reinforcement to form a reasonably stable oil-spill-retention barrier that can be applied on the water surface around a spill and remain reasonably intact after solidification since the fibers reinforce the wax. For example, an aircraft or boat may deposit fibers across an oil slick perimeter and across the slick itself. A later vessel may apply a fluid wax to bind the particles and wax together forming a temporary barrier not easily broached by wave action, or degraded in to small particles. An alternative would be for an applier to combine the fibers and liquefied wax simultaneously in a continuous stream. Suitable dyes may be provided by The Candlemaker, 304 Travis Lane, Suite 24, Waukesha, Wis. 53189, and are used as alternative candle colorants. The addition of a dye in the processes described above allows ready visualization of application. Thus, it is recognized that a colored waxy composition is superior during practical use as discussed above because the dye allows ready visual differentiation between spilled oil, applied wax, water or contaminated soil and rocks, thereby speeding recovery and operation.

An additional alternative embodiment of the present invention provides for the use of a well-defined and uniform waxy composition, and/or suitable die, with at least one of (a) an organic oil-consuming microbe—speeding degradation, (b) a suitable analysis tracking agent—allowing ready analysis and differentiation of a particular oil spill residue from others by speedy laboratory testing methods known to those of skill in the organic analysis arts.

In sum, the application of this above process to the chemical industry to recover organic chemical contaminants (BOD and COD concerns). For example, where an organic composition such as methylene chloride is spilled in water (and hence floats on the surface), the application of melted wax ready bonds to the methylene chloride, solidifies, and sinks to the bottom or floats on the surface depending upon a specific waxy composition starting density.

As discussed and considered herein, the selected waxy composition may be readily stored as blocks or other conveniently shaped physical constructs and then readily containerized (stored in containers) and transported to a needed locality, melted and applied as needed.

The application of the present invention to the use of a uniform physical block allows ready intermixing of multiple blocks in a batch-melting process and thereby allows the ready tailoring of a composition to a desired standard by mixing pre-selected and differently composed waxy blocks prior to melting.

In the claims, means- or step-plus-function clauses are intended to cover the structures described or suggested herein as performing the recited function and not only structural equivalents but also equivalent structures. Thus, for example, although a nail, a screw, and a bolt may not be structural equivalents in that a nail relies on friction between a wooden part and a cylindrical surface, a screw's helical surface positively engages the wooden part, and a bolt's head and nut compress opposite sides of a wooden part, in the environment of fastening wooden parts, a nail, a screw, and a bolt may be readily understood by those skilled in the art as equivalent structures.

Having described at least one of the preferred embodiments of the present invention with reference to the accompanying drawings, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited to those precise embodiments, and that various changes, modifications, and adaptations may be effected therein by one skilled in the art without departing from the scope or spirit of the invention as defined in the appended claims.